Lesson 08: Product Owner
In this, and the next three lessons, we will review the Scrum roles. Most of the details about each role will be made clear when we go on with the course and review the process.
We’re going to review the Product Owner role in this lesson.
2020 update notes
A few things have changed in the latest version of the Scrum Guide (2020), and the ASF exam is updated based on those changes. However, our videos are not updated yet; so, please note the following changes:
- There’s no “development team” anymore, but only Developers.
- The recommended team size is now “10 people or less” for the whole Scrum Team.
- It’s now called “self-managing” instead of “self-organizing” (same concept, different name).
- There’s a Product Goal now, which is part of the Product Backlog, and sets the overall direction for the product.
- The Sprint Goal is now considered as part of the Sprint Backlog.
- The concept of commitments is introduced for the artifacts:
- Product Goal is the commitment for the Product Backlog.
- Sprint Goal is the commitment for the Sprint Backlog.
- Definition of Done is the commitment for the Increment.
- The Definition of Done is created by the whole Scrum Team now, and not only by the Developers.
- Now, any time you finish an item (based on the Definition of Done), a new Increment is formed. It’s not about having just one Increment at the end of the Sprint.
- The guide doesn’t suggest 10% as the ceiling for the amount of time Developers spend on Product Backlog refinement.
- Sprint Planning has three topics now:
- Why? -> Sprint Goal
- What? -> Items from the Product Backlog
- How? -> Tasks created by decomposing the items
- “Estimating” is now called “sizing”. So, it’s the responsibility of the Developers to size the Product Backlog items.
- “Value” is no longer one of the mandatory attributes of the Product Backlog items. The mandatory attributes are description, size, and order.
- Instead of calling the Increments “potentially releasable”, the new guide calls them “usable” (more or less the same concept).
- 00:06 – Okay. We’re going to talk about the team and the first person we’re going to talk about is the Product Owner.
- 00:13 – There’s one Product Owner in a normal setting, and they don’t have to be working on only one project at a time, it can be part-time, and in fact, in most projects, you don’t need to have a full-time Product Owner.
- 00:33 – They usually serve 2, 3 or 4 projects at a time.
- 00:39 – If you want, if you really want, it is okay for Scrum to have one person play the role of Product Owner as well as another role. That is fine.
- 00:53 – For example, be both the Product Owner and Scrum Master or both the Product Owner and Development Team. That’s okay.
- 01:00 – It’s not forbidden. That’s what I mean, is that it’s not forbidden, but it’s a very bad idea.
- 01:07 – If you have time, go and work as a Product Owner for multiple projects, that’s a better idea because in that way, you will be focused on certain type of skills, and as I mentioned before, they are business oriented. They don’t have to be technical.
- 01:23 – What they do is that they work on the Product Backlog. I’ll tell you more about that.
- 01:29 – So, there’s one ultimate responsibility for the Product Owner.
- 01:35 – The ultimate responsibility is to maximize the value of the product.
- 01:42 – What does it mean?
- 01:46 – Can you think about the way we can maximize the value of the product?
- 01:52 – Alright. The value of the product depends on which features are included in the product, in which sequence, and what fancy elements or basic elements we have in those features.
- 02:11 – So, basically the way you can maximize value is by ordering the Product Backlog because we know that for each Sprint, we will pick items from the top of the Product Backlog.
- 02:26 – The Product Owner is responsible for ordering the Product Backlog to see which order is the best, and therefore our increments will start with the most important things.
- 02:39 – That’s key really because, first of all, the more important items will be more effective in generating feedback, that’s really important, and the other is that maybe you decide to release the product in the middle of the project as a customer.
- 02:59 – In that case, when you have the more important things, you can earn more money, generate more benefits, profit, everything.
- 03:09 – So, in fact, we say that the Product Owner manages the Product Backlog or even we say that they own the Product Backlog, and when we say that someone owns something, it means that they have the ultimate accountability for that thing.
- 03:26 – Normally, they are the only people who touch the Product Backlog.
- 03:33 – No one else is allowed to go and add something to the Product Backlog or make some changes, especially to the order of the things.
- 03:41 – Only one of the things in the Product Backlog come … has to come from other people, we will talk about that, maybe you can guess now, but even for that thing, it’s the Product Owner who goes to those people, get that information, write it down on those sticky notes, and put that on the Product Backlog. Okay?
- 04:05 – Still, however, they have certain responsibilities here and if they want, they can delegate those responsibilities to other people.
- 04:16 – I don’t see why. It’s not too much work, but still it’s allowed, but they will stay accountable, as usual.
- 04:26 – There’s one common misconception. I’ve seen many people do it like that.
- 04:32 – They consider the customer representative to be the Product Owner and that’s normally not the case.
- 04:42 – The Product Owner is one of the team members internal to the project.
- 04:47 – So, if you have an external customer, another company, you’re the supplier, you’re developing a piece of software for an external customer, then in that case, you will need to have one of your own people from your own company to play the role of Product Owner, and they will be in touch with the customer.
- 05:05 – If you have an internal project, then you usually have two or even more than two sides to your project.
- 05:14 – You have the technical side, your IT department, for example; and a business side, sales and marketing, for example.
- 05:23 – Then in that case, the Product Owner can come from sales and marketing, which is basically the customer, but that’s the internal customer. Okay?
- 05:35 – Alright. So, the Product Owner is the main contact point between the team and the customer.
- 05:46 – It doesn’t mean that we don’t allow any other type of communication here.
- 05:51 – For example, tell the developers that, “You’re not allowed to talk to the customer.” It’s not like that, but most of the communications go through the Product Owner and that’s a good idea to make it more serious because if it is about something that can affect the value of the product, then the Product Owner has to know about it.
- 06:16 – For example, if you’re a developer, you’re going to create a feature for printing, and now you talk to the customer directly and you want to know what they really want for printing.
- 06:29 – Do they want many different fancy features for printing?
- 06:33 – In that case, if you add extra fancy things to that feature, it will change the value and the Product Owner has to know about that. So, keep them informed.
- 06:49 – And one last thing about the Product Owner.
- 06:51 – You see, it’s simple, we’re almost done with one of the roles.
- 06:55 – We will learn more about them when we go through the artifacts and events, but for now, one last thing about the Product Owner is that in a normal setting, when we have one team, there’s only one Product Owner because if you’re going to have more than one Product Owner, then it will be very difficult to coordinate things.
- 07:18 – In certain cases, you can have a group of people playing the role of Product Ownership; not the role, taking the Product Ownership responsibility.
- 07:30 – That can be the case but in that case, one of those people should be called the Product Owner and be in front, be the main person who’s in touch with everyone.
- 07:41 – So, as a developer, for example, you don’t expect multiple people to come to you and tell you things.
- 07:48 – You expect one of them who’s called the Product Owner to be in touch with you for consistency, to make sure that things are straightforward and simple. Okay?
- 08:00 – In the next lesson, we’ll talk about the Scrum Master.
- Can you give a short description of the Product Owner role?
- If you’re familiar with PRINCE2®, PMBOK® Guide, DSDM®, or another system, can you explain how the Product Owner responsibilities are done in those systems?
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